The peripheral chemoreflex was tested in healthy term infants by measuring the ventilatory response to 100% oxygen over 30 seconds. Minute ventilation did not change when studied two to six hours after birth. By contrast, at 2-6 days of age a mean decrease of 9.8% was noted, the difference between the groups being highly significant. There were no significant changes in respiratory rate. It is concluded that the chemoreflex is less active immediately after birth than it is a few days later, possibly due to a resetting of the sensitivity of the peripheral chemoreceptors from the fetal state, with its relatively low arterial oxygen tension to the higher postnatal concentrations.
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